Harmful germs can grow in some foods, which can make you sick. There is a higher risk when the food is left in the temperature danger zone between 4 °C and 60 °C. Germs can grow in foods like meat, fish, poultry, dairy products, eggs, cooked cereals, and cooked vegetables.
It is a good idea to thaw and cool these types of foods safely to make sure harmful germs don’t grow and make you sick.
Don’t thaw food at room temperature or in hot water. Harmful germs can grow on the surface of the food, even if it’s still frozen in the middle.
After food is properly thawed (except when thawing with a microwave), keep it in the fridge (4 °C or colder) before you cook or reheat it.
If you cool foods slowly from cooking temperatures (74 °C or hotter) to fridge temperatures (0 °C to 4 °C), there is a higher chance of germs growing. Always cool food as quickly as possible. Foods must cool to 20 °C within 2 hours and then to 4 °C within another 4 hours.
To cool foods safely:
After food is properly cooled, label and store it with the date and time it was prepared. Throw away any food that isn’t eaten within 3 to 4 days.
Current as of: February 26, 2018
Author: Environmental Public Health, Alberta Health Services
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